Fish and chips in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Sydney: A Gateway to the Hawkesbury River

Confusingly, when arriving at Brooklyn on the northern outskirts of Sydney by train, you alight at Hawkesbury River Station. The small Sydney suburb of Brooklyn is squeezed between the Ku-ring-gai National Park and the Hawkesbury River. It looks and feels more like a village.

Living in Brooklyn NSW

House on the railwayline

Pretty Brooklyn Cottage

Pretty Cottage

Living across the river from Brooklyn, I pass through it regularly. It’s going to be a challenge putting a fresh face to a suburb I know reasonably well.

The Hawkesbury River Station

The Hawkesbury River Station has an important history. A photographic display at the station is well worth reading. When the railway reached Brooklyn in 1887, it enabled faster transport of agricultural and seafood goods. Previously supplies went from Windsor by road or by boat to Sydney.

Hawkesbury River Station History

Historic Photographs at the station

Hawkesbury River Station

View from the stairs

Some History

The first Hawkesbury River Bridge opened in 1889 and people travelling North no longer had to alight at Hawkesbury River Station and transfer to The General Gordon ferry to cross the broad Hawkesbury River. The bridge formed the final link in the railway line from Adelaide to Brisbane.

Today

People walking the Great North Walk will pass through Brooklyn after walking from Cowan to Brooklyn. I’ve often seen tired but happy walkers at the Hawkesbury River Station catching the train back to Sydney having completed another stage of their journey north.

The Great North Walk Brooklyn

Directions to The Great North Walk

I climb the station stairs (there is no lift, although one is promised) for a perfect lookout over the Marina and the Hawkesbury River to Dangar Island. The calm water reflects a red channel marker and spur winged plovers preen in the grass on the shoreline.

Opposite the station exit, an obelisk commemorates the naming of the Hawkesbury River by Governor Phillip in 1789.

Hawkesbury River Station

Save Me

Hawkesbury River Arts

Note the word change

On my left is the marina and the Dangar Island ferry wharf. The Riverboat Postman (a cruise well worth doing) also leaves from here. It delivers my mail and that of water access only properties. Catherine is in the ticket office and I take a moment to say hello.

Walking to the Hawkesbury River Bridge

A narrow dirt road between the railway line and the river leads to the Hawkesbury River Bridge. The water gently laps the shore, well-used fishing boats float idly at their moorings and water craft criss-cross the river. I pass through an open gate wondering if I am trespassing.

Riverboat Postman Ticket Office

Riverboat Postman Ticket Office

Fishing Boats Brooklyn

Idle Fishing Boats

Disappointingly, at the end of the road, a high metal paling fence and locked gate blocks my way. If the monument to the bridge mentioned in the photographic display at the station still exists, I am not going to find it.

Instead I find a site office for the foreshore stabilisation work and a perfect view of the ‘new bridge’ and the piers of the first Hawkesbury River Bridge. When the first bridge failed, a second (opened in 1946) was built alongside.  A train thunders over the bridge as I turn back.

Site office Hawkesbury River

Site office

Hawkesbury River Bridge

Note the old pylons

Fishing Boats and a Ferry

A fisherman tells me he hasn’t caught anything except “little, little” and gestures that he threw them back.

The view on my left is like a magnet and I walk, head turned to the activity on the water. A barge loaded with two garbage trucks carrying the weekly Dangar Island rubbish cruises back to the Parsley Bay boat ramp. In the distance, the distinctive Dangar Island Ferry carries passengers to Little Wobby. Circles of ripples appear where a jumping fish disturbed the smooth water.

Brooklyn Village

Back in Brooklyn village, the bread maker from Dangar unloads large bags of flour onto a trolley. We chat and I order a loaf for tomorrow. Another passing Dangar friend comments how she loves my “working outfit”. I love how she calls what I do work. The community where I live is very special.

Brooklyn Post Office

Rent me

Coffee shop Brooklyn

One of the coffee shops

Gateway to the Hawkesbury

Often called the “Gateway to the Hawkesbury”, day trippers visit Brooklyn for the seafood, for fishing and boating and just to spend a day in a rather special environment. This small community has a medical centre and pharmacy, a pub and a post office. There’s a real estate agency and a motel, a grocery store and bottle shop as well as options for eat in or takeaway seafood and coffee.

Brooklyn House

My favourite Brooklyn House

Another Brooklyn House

Another Brooklyn House

Brooklyn Road

The cicadas in the bush on my left as I follow Brooklyn Road away from the village, are deafening as the heat intensifies. Today is going to be very hot.

Brooklyn Road is the only way in and out of the village by car. It divides the residential part of the suburb in two. On one side, properties abut the railway line while on the other side the houses line the road with side roads extending to the waterline.

Sandstone house in Brooklyn

Sandstone and porthole

Brooklyn Home

Blue Garage Door

As I walk, I check out the different houses of this small community of just over 700 residents. They range from old fibro shacks to modern homes. A couple are built from sandstone and one looks like a renovated church.

Brooklyn Public School is closed for the holidays, but the public are invited to use the playground facilities until school opens again. How many schools have a pirate ship in their sandpit?

Brooklyn Park Mangrove Walk

In the oval opposite the school two flags fly on either side of the War Memorial.  A board displays work by students from the school as part of the “Beasts of Brooklyn” project. Some names are familiar.

Brooklyn Public School

The School

Beasts of Brooklyn Project

Beasts of Brooklyn Project

The Brooklyn Park Mangrove Walk, a short pleasant 15-minute boardwalk through the mangroves, begins here. I read that this is one of the few remaining examples of mangrove swamp and saltmarsh in the Sydney area. The trees provide welcome shade and the drone of the cicadas follows me as I continue along the boardwalk.

The walk ends at the eastern end of the oval where skateboard ramps stand silently next to the vacant tennis court. On my way back to the village centre, I explore a couple of short side streets towards the water.

Brooklyn Park Mangrove Walk

Mangrove Reflections

Flooded boat Brooklyn

No use to anyone

Hawkesbury River Marina

The heat has intensified and I need a cool drink. At the Marina, I greet more friends enjoying a quiet coffee. Linda sits at her usual spot – a table outside her gift shop, River Dreams. We chat as I take a break, drinking a cold ginger beer.

Leaving the Marina, cockatoos squawk overhead. Pelicans preen themselves on poles in the channel and a brush turkey scratches in the bush. Then a group of jet skis shatter the peace. How I dislike those things.

McKell Park

In McKell Park, a series of panels describe historical events and features of the area. They make fascinating reading.

History of Brooklyn

Did you know there was a railway disaster in 1887 when six people were killed? Or that owing to the strategic importance of the Hawkesbury River Bridge, troops were stationed in Brooklyn during both world wars? And that Australia’s Constitution was crafted on a boat on the river near Brooklyn?

General Gordon Ferry

General Gordon Ferry

Brooklyn Baths

Brooklyn Baths

Two women swim laps in nearby Brooklyn Baths while a mother and child paddle in the shallows.  Other children enjoy playground.

Flat Rock Point and Parsley Bay

The foreshore path curves around Flat Rock Point to Parsley Bay. I sigh. How peaceful it is here. A cicada startles me. I stop to look where he lands. The longer I look, the more cicadas I see.

Groups of fishermen try their luck at Parsley Bay. Day trippers launch their boats. Boat tenders rest in racks on the shore. Near them, the rock formations stop me in my tracks.  They are incredible.

Sandstone Rock Formation

The photo doesn’t do justice

Sandstone Rock formations

A different look

The local dragon boat team glides in to shore after a practice session. A woman sits at the water’s edge eating a sandwich. She is soaking wet having taken a cooling dip, fully clothed. It turns out that we know each other and we chat briefly before I move on.

Above me, houses perch on a huge rock overlooking the river.  As I make my way up behind them a man calls out. “Aaargh. Spider”. He’s walked into a web. I know how he feels.

Parsley Bay Booklyn

Parsley Bay

Brooklyn Real Estate

Perched on a rock

Upper McKell Park

Now, in the Upper section of Mckell Park, I have a clear view down the river. A group of people hover around one of the BBQs. The man behind the BBQ is Jimmy. He runs Gourmet Getaway, a tour I reviewed a couple of years ago and another I highly recommend.

At the end of the path, the Federation Walk leads to Flat Rock Point where I find the remnants of an anti-aircraft battery. Unfortunately, someone has removed the signage. A flight of sandstone stairs leads back down to the foreshore and the village.

View of the Hawkesbury River

Incredible views

Fishing Coop Brooklyn

The Fisherman’s Coop in Brooklyn

What I love about Brooklyn

Looking back on my walk I realise what I love about Brooklyn. It’s the community, the natural environment and the river. Oh the river. You could do worse than make a day trip to Brooklyn.

And a couple of random photos

Boating in Brooklyn

A Boatyard

Abandoned car in Brooklyn

Left to the elements

Brooklyn's Rooster

Brooklyn’s Rooster

War Memorial Hall Brooklyn

War Memorial Hall

Let me Know if you see the rooster.

While you’re at Brooklyn why not take the Dangar Island Ferry across the Hawkesbury River for a walk around Dangar Island
Next Stop: Vaucluse

Useful information:

Brooklyn is 52.4km north of the Sydney CBD

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info

And a map to assist your walk through Brooklyn: (You can download it here)
(Note that this is a guide only and that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):

Comments

  1. Great read Joanne. Thank you. I love that you included the rooster as he’s such an important feature. No mention of the Great North Walk?

    1. Author

      Mmmm. I edited the photo out as I had too many. Will add that in. Thanks.

  2. Thanks Jo for this great post. I live in Avoca Beach and looking for things to do with my 5 ½ year old before he starts school next month (wanting to make the most of my last few weeks with him!). Happy New Year!

    1. Author

      He will enjoy spotting the pelicans and the pool has a great beach entry. Perfect for little ones.

  3. With your usual impressive prose and imagery, you’ve presented a most delightful snapshot of Brooklyn Village! I was unhappy to hear that I’d just missed your River Dreams visit, though… Looking forward to Vaucluse!

  4. I’m loving your blog. We did Dangar Island not long ago and then went back to Brooklyn last week. Two beautiful locations.
    Thank you,
    Tanya

  5. Brooklyn and its surrounding villages connected by the beautiful Hawksbury River with all its charm are a great place to explore. Thanks for the beautiful photographs and post.

    1. Author

      Thanks Bernadette. Brooklyn does have lots to offer and is a photographer’s dream.

  6. Thanks Joanne for that wonderful insight into Brooklyn our family love a visit have taken a bus there with elderly folk and they really enjoy the drive and the fish and chips. Have done the Postman trip very informative chat by Captain who also has a great sense of humour. Shall put another visit on the list for January.

    1. Author

      Thanks Judith. I think Brooklyn is a place many people return to again and again.

    1. Author

      Thanks Jimmy. He resides at the little cottage opposite the railway station (Hawkesbury ‘Farts’)

  7. Thanks Joanne. I love your tale of each trail through different suburbs. You have put much character into ‘The Hawkesbury’.
    Any chance of visiting McMahons Pt?

    1. Author

      Thanks Loretta, I’m glad you like it. As you know I visited Lavender Bay which incorporated a bit of McMahon’s Point. Maybe I should look at it again?

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